My jaw has shifted
February 28, 2006 9:30 PM   Subscribe

It seems as if my jaw has shifted forward about an inch. How is that possible?

On waking Sunday morning, I noticed that my jaw had shifted forward. It took me from a very small overbite to a pronounced underbite. My teeth no longer "fit" together properly.

I have had some minor jaw pain recently, TMJ-like, from a flare of chronic arthritis. It felt like a ball bearing stuck in the hinge causing pain when I bit down. I still have a slight burning sensation and some tightness under my right ear. This has been going on for about two weeks after stopping an anti-inflammatory due to side effects.

Unfortunately, I have neither access to neither my rheumatologist or a dentist for at least a week or so. Is it possible that the joint inflammation is pressing my jaw forward causing the problem? Have you experienced anything similar? Should I seek emergent care?
posted by karmaville to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
You have a dislocated jaw. If the pain isn't intense, you probably haven't fractured the TMJ, but do not try to reseat it yourself - go to the emergency room.
posted by nicwolff at 9:41 PM on February 28, 2006

You may have dislocated your jaw. This happened to me less than a year ago.

This question may sound funny (but it's not): Did you open your mouth too wide at some point recently? Maybe you yawned too wide? I had an anxiety induced seizure which caused my jaw to dislocate this way.

I'm not sure if emerg can do anything. I'm not sure if you WANT emerg to do anything! I heard the jaw is usually reset manually by breaking the jaw and resetting it - all when you're awake!

I found out I had dislocated my jaw when I went to the dentist because of the pain. They had one look and said - "we ain't touching it, you need to see a specialist". They also told me to stay away from chewing gum, as it would only aggrevate and worsen the condition.

However, as I was waiting in fear and trepidation for this appointment to re-locate my jaw, I decided one day at work to chew gum anyway. As I slowly mawed on a big wad of gum, I could feel my jaw swell up more and more. Then I heard a big pop! and my jaw slipped back into place!

The sensible thing to do is go to emerg and have it looked at. Get professional advice but keep my story in the back of your mind.
posted by rinkjustice at 9:56 PM on February 28, 2006

Sorry to be harsh, but rinkjustice's "advice" is terrible. Do not even think about chewing gum till this is fixed! I guess you can waste your time praying if you want.

In fact, be damn careful with that jaw on your way to the ER! A good whack on your chin could fracture the left side and pretty much knock your jaw off. You might wrap an Ace bandage around your head top to bottom for safety's sake - you'll look pretty goofy but jaws are nice to have.

PS. I sympathize - I woke up Sunday morning with vicious joint pain at the far other end of my body: my big toe - after ten years without an attack Friday night's Brunello binge brought on my gout. Sucks to be us!
posted by nicwolff at 10:34 PM on February 28, 2006

Wow, rinkjustice gave two incredibly awful pieces of advice in a row, and they were both incredibly awful in completely different ways!

Don't touch your jaw! Don't chew gum! See a professional. That's all.
posted by Justinian at 11:02 PM on February 28, 2006

If you do pray to God, do it silently, as speaking aloud , chanting, davening, etc. might inflame your jaw further.

Seriously though. Do you even have to ask about seeing a doctor here?
posted by LGCNo6 at 11:19 PM on February 28, 2006

Go directly to the E.R. Do not pass Go. Don't collect $200. sorry.

But seriously: don't eat anything. Just go. Now.

Still reading this? Go.
posted by anjamu at 11:36 PM on February 28, 2006

If You Can Read This, You Should Instead Be At The Emergency Room.
posted by Justinian at 11:42 PM on February 28, 2006

I have had a similar problem to this two or three times, as a result of throat/ear infections....a course of antibiotics has resolved the issue, but I know when its happening due to this 'jaw-shifting' issue.
posted by mattr at 4:40 AM on March 1, 2006

Karmaville, I've had a dislocated jaw (unlike others who have posted) and lived with all the associated pain for weeks. I recommended getting confirmation from a medical specialist (ie: emergency) but I was trying to say in a roundabout and ineffective way to hold off on any radical treatment that may cause you significantly more pain than you're in right now and change the way your face looks forever.

I stand by the suggestion you pray for help and an easy way out instead of having such a traumatic surgical proceedure done. Go ahead and make an appointment with a specialist (if that's what you're told to do), but I wouldn't (and didn't) let someone crawl over my chest and bust up my jaw without praying first.

My recommendations are formulated by experience and what I know (and don't actually differ all that much from the other postings), except I had the audacity to enter God into the equation.

Take it or leave it karmaville, but I'm hoping for a favourable outcome to your awful situation.
posted by rinkjustice at 5:13 AM on March 1, 2006

Radical treatment?! The doctor will anesthetize your jaw and pop it back into place. You'll have a bandage on your head and an ice pack for the swelling, and probably some nice Vicodin for the pain. Unless the joint is broken, you'll be home in a few hours (depending how busy your local ER is.).

If you really don't want to go to the ER, you can have a friend relocate the joint - this is good to know if this ever happens when you're far from medical help - they would wrap their thumbs in gauze, face you while you are seated, reach their thumbs way into your mouth, and push down hard and a little back on your gums next to your back molars till your jaw POPs back into place.

But if the joint still hurts hours later, the bone is probably fractured, and you have to see a doctor.
posted by nicwolff at 9:09 AM on March 1, 2006

God helps those who help themselves. See a qualified specialist.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:02 AM on March 1, 2006

I had less severe symptoms of the nature described by the OP, ended up going to a Nurse Practitioner. Looks like I'll be wearing a mouth guard for a little while :)
posted by onalark at 7:28 PM on August 31, 2006

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